The Galvin Brothers’ GastroPub Comes Good.
It is that time of year when, if the sun dares to poke its head out for the day on a Saturday or Sunday an al-fresco brunch seems like a VERY good idea indeed. And, if you happen to be looking for a venue that might work for you, I can heartily recommend Galvin Hop, which has a small outdoors terrace.
While it’s not quite Windows or La Chapelle, it does have plenty of ‘Galvin Brothers’ good things to help it along. And, a simple, for the most unpretentious menu with an excellent value ‘bottomless’ option makes it a worthwhile destination. Actually, Spitalfields is a pleasant place to wander round at the weekend anyway – one of those semi-gentrified parts of London that still has plenty of character. So an all round winning combination in my eyes.
For me, the bottomless booze options here have two things to recommend them. Firstly there’s the option of a Pilsner. While I’m not interested in beer myself, I’ve always thought the options of fizz or bloody mary rather restricting. Here, beer drinkers can rejoice with pints of Unpasturised Pilsner Urquell – a young beer from the Czech republic which is apparently highly recommended. Secondly, there the price point. It’s £10 to add bottomless booze to your brunch – which given a glass of prosecco is £9.25 seems like a no-brainer for anyone who wants to drink alcohol. There are some healthy sounding juices too if you don’t – and a tidy wine list with the option of wines from the tap and including Galvin’s own champagne Cuvee, their white Chardonnay from Burgundy and Red Grenache from the Rhone . But, everyone around us had opted for bottomless prosecco or beer and it would have been rude not to follow suit.
The menu comprises a selection of brunch classics, soups and salads, mains, toasties and puds. I sometimes struggle with brunch menus because I just don’t enjoy too much egg. But here there are plenty of options – I’d be very tempted by the toasties (fillings include Dingley Dell ham, Comte cheese, maple cured bacon and smoked chicken) if I wasn’t too hungry, and at £7.50 for 2 fillings it seems quite reasonable. The brunch classics are, indeed classics – a full English, Eggs Benedict, or Galvin cure smoked salmon and scrambled eggs for example. And, the mains are all gastropub classics. There’s a roast Cumbrian brisket if you are yearning for a Sunday lunch, the famous Galvin dog deluxe and Honey roasted Dingley Dell ham, eggs and chips.
My companion couldn’t decide between the Cumbrian sirloin with fried egg and chips and the Galvin deluxe burger. In the end she opted for the later and, despite a little trepidation concerning the strange item on the top of the bun (a deep fried pickle) she thoroughly enjoyed it. Our waitress had asked if she wanted the burger pink or well-done – and when questioned that appeared to be the only options open. My companion, who had been aiming for medium, ended up veering towards the safety of well-done and was rewarded with a burger that was just pink in the middle and actually exactly what she’d meant by medium.
For me, day boat fish of the day with a side order of gourmet chips which came with siracha mayo. Apparently the fish of the day was Sand Sole – which I’d never heard of, but which Google happily tells me is a small species of flat fish found around the southern coast of England, Wales and Ireland. It arrived looking for all the world like a miniature Dover sole and tasted pretty similar too. I was impressed with the well cooked and nicely presented plate – and grateful that no one had tried to take it off the bone. For me, fish definitely tastes better cooked on the bone and, I rather enjoy excavating the flesh too.
We also ordered a side of crushed avocado with urfa chilli – a mild and citrussy Turkish black chilli that I remember having for breakfast when I was sailing around the mediterranean with a Turkish cook on board. Very simple and quite delicious.
For desserts we ordered two classics. Treacle tart with clotted cream and a poached rhubarb tart with custard. The rhubarb tart was closer, we thought to a bakewell or crumble tart – not nearly enough rhubarb to warrant the name. And both the tart and the custard were served cold. While my companion really enjoyed it, it wasn’t what she’d expected.
By comparison, the treacle tart was everything I could have dreamed of and more – warm and richly sticky with just a thin pastry base. Again, not what I’d expected – rather closer to a sticky toffee pudding. But, so delicious I’d certainly be ordering it again. Though I did quite like the sound of the Valrhona chocolate choux bun…and of the lemon curd doughnut.
We were just that little bit more than comfortably stuffed. But, there’s nothing that I wouldn’t have ordered again – though there’s plenty more I’d like to try.
With many thanks to Galvin Hop for an excellent brunch in a pleasant, informal setting.
35 Spital Square
London E1 6DY